After Thursday night’s win over the Browns, Ravens receiver Steve Smith called out NBC’s Rodney Harrison regarding the perception that Harrison was criticizing Smith by pointing out his age and the absence of younger receivers playing at Smith’s level.
The truth is that Harrison wasn’t criticizing Smith. He was criticizing the Ravens for not having younger options at the top of the depth chart.
“I look at Steve Smith and he is your best player, but the problem is he is a 37-year-old wide receiver,” Harrison said on Football Night in America. “[Smith] is coming off a major surgery. Once he left the game, then your toughness and production left. They have some good young wide receivers, but they don’t have a lot of NFL experience.”
On Friday, Harrison elaborated on his views in comments to PFT.
“I’ve said in the past that Steve should be a Hall of Famer,” Harrison said via text message. “I’ve also said he was one of the toughest receivers I ever played against. What he is doing at age 37 is remarkable. However, coming off a major injury and having played in my late 30s, I know how the body can break down, so I stand by my comments. I understand the importance of having balance on offense and defense. That’s my perspective.”
Harrison’s perspective comes from playing on teams that were sufficiently balanced to play in four Super Bowls, and to win two of them. But his criticism remains about the Ravens, not about Steve Smith.
“I respect Steve, and wish I could have played with him,” Harrison said. “I wish him good luck. The rest of the season should be fun to watch.”
Last year, I argued that Smith should be traded from a struggling Ravens team to a contender. This year, the Ravens are a contender. And with two months to go until the postseason, it’s impossible to rule out the possibility that the Ravens will take Smith back to the Super Bowl for the first time since Harrison’s Patriots outscored Smith’s Panthers 13 years ago.